Diary of a Saloon Owner: 2006

 by CAROL JOYNT

"The true life of an Emmy-winning TV producer who suddenly became a widow, a solo parent, and a saloon owner."

More photos at Photos Central
contact carol@nathansgeorgetown.com

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 2 ... We were just about to head out the door to Jetties Sunday barbecue when the sky opened up. Hmmm. Not fair. We'll give it a few minutes and hope the grills are not washed out. BO BLAIR began the Summer Barbecues at Jetties last week, and one happy patron told me it was excellent. For more information, visit Bo's website: jettiesdc.com.

In my quest to try every brunch in DC, today we headed to the "outer boroughs," to Potomac, Md., to the venerable Normadie Farm restaurant, which has been operating since 1931. The pleasant wait staff no longer wear period French country costumes, nor does the brunch menu even seem all that French, but they still have marvelous popovers. It's an all-you-can-eat buffet for $24, including lots of salads, shellfish, vegetable dishes, cheeses, spreads, hand carved prime rib, beef stroganoff, lamb, eggs benedict, an omelet man, waffles, pancakes to order, and a half dozen different desserts. Spencer and compared that spread to the $90 per person buffet brunch at the Four Seasons and Normandie Farm came out on top.

The photo of the day shows the dessert we made last night at home. It's so simple, and is a celebration of all the fresh berries now in the markets as well as the colors of the flag. Spencer helped me make the shortbread, using Lily buttermilk biscuits mix. He kneaded the dough while I whipped the heavy cream and vanilla for creme Chantilly. The shortbread took 10 minutes to bake, a few more minutes to cool, and dessert was on the table.

What I fell for this week were ringback tones. They are a positive from the cellphone industry. Now when someone calls my cellphone, rather than a conventional ringer, they get
DANIEL POWTER singing "Bad Day," and the song plays until I, or voicemail, answer. Isn't that sweet? I happen to adore the song, especially the lyrics:



Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carryin' on

You had a bad day

I find the song uplifting.

Also uplifting this steamy Sunday of the July 4th holiday: the fact we can pay DC parking tickets online. I commend the DC government for doing something right, thus making the process of being ticketed less aggravating by half.

Though I get 90% of my news online or onair, I'm still old-fashioned on Sundays, when I read the NYTimes. Because one needs to prepare for the gloom I save the front section for last, and start instead with Styles. This morning they had quite a treat in store from
GUY TREBAY, in Top Gun form, reviewing the '07 Milan spring menswear collections. When fashion is done well it's an entertainment, and sometimes an art form, and the same can be said of fashion writing. He sees NANCY REAGAN in the vapors, and the men's clothing, and applies her "Just Say No" campaign to much of what trucked down the runway. For example, "Say no to boring minimalist blazers worn ove tights that leave little doubt as to whether the wearer has been circumcised (CALVIN KLEIN). The Versace collection was excused, because "there was nothing to suggest a man who looks as if he secretly wishes to wear his girlfriend's clothes." Well, every sentence is that much fun. Read it yourself at: Earth to Milan.

In the week of "The Devil Wears Prada," it's just the right endnote.

 

SATURDAY, JULY 1 ... A year ago today Spencer and I were rolling through Iowa and South Dakota, chasing the sunset to the west, acclimating ourselves to the first of 21 days on the road as we traveled from here to the Pacific Ocean and back again. It was one of those journeys of a lifetime, timed well with him being 13 and still almost able to tolerate being with his mother for three weeks. (I don't think we could have that today.) It's a trip every family should take at least once. Last night we celebrated the anniversary with dinner at Cityzen at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This restaurant confounds me. It's a little too heavy with the restaurant-as-cathedral attitude, but the food is excellent and often breathtaking. Gosh, if everybody there would just ease up and have some fun. The staff are very sweet, but all are so hushed and uptight. When food's that good I say tinkle the glasses, clap hands, hoop and holler.

Maybe it's me, because I just don't buy into restaurants that make me feel like I passed some test to get in, and that the headmaster and headmistress are in charge, and if I should so much as chew loudly, drop a fork or ask for a substitution, they might drop kick me out the door on the spot. Cityzen was not that extreme, but we all know the places that are. Restaurants are not cathedrals. They are places where people go to eat a meal, ideally well prepared, cheerfully presented, affordable and, as a bonus, in a room that looks good and feels comfortable, and maybe, too, the person at the door will act like he or she is happy to see you. Stop in for a meal at Le Relais at the Plaza Athenee in Paris and you will see exactly what I mean, except for the affordable part.

While many people are off at the beaches, the mountains and the lakes, we are settled in for a Georgetown July 4th and it feels quite easy and relaxed. The pace is slow, there's lots to do, if we feel the need, and if we don't there's a good hammock out back. Nathans, fortunately, continues to benefit from the World Cup soccer games.

Today I cut out my hair wraps after almost two months of wearing them. It was quite an ordeal, involving razor blades and focus. If I ever get back out to the boardwalk in Rehoboth I'll get some more. You can, too. Go to Imagination on Rehoboth Avenue and ask for Erica. Tell her I sent you.

FRIDAY, JUNE 30... I'm here to give an early report on "The Devil Wears Prada," playng down at the Loews. In Miranda Priestly's words, or word, there's only this to say: "Go." MERYL STREEP is so much fun in this film that she alone lifts it out of the "chick flick" genre and into the much more delicious realm of guilty pleasure.

An interesting phone message last night from
JULIA O'DONOGHUE of The Georgetown Current. She said, "I hear you are closing Nathans and we want to do a story about it." Hmmm. News to me. But not the first time that rumor has come my way. It's been going round since mere months after Howard died. I will phone her once the work day begins to let her know I have no plans to close Nathans. We still have a pulse, and almost three years remaining on the lease -- and a proposal out there for a new, longer lease -- and all kinds of good ideas for the future. We feel confident, though not over-confident, we will dodge the tax bill bullet next week, especially if we do good business this weekend and over the next 7 days. We are about $7,000 shy of what's needed to get the city off our backs, for the moment. They'll be back on us about something else sooner or later. Hey, maybe someone downtown dropped the dime? Is that possible? Nah. Usually the rumors of Nathans imminent demise start with people who want the lease.

(Later: I talked to Julia, who said she heard it from her editor, but doesn't know where he heard it. Regardless, it's not true!!!)

This day has dawned quite beautifully. Sunshine, low temps, dry air, birds chirping,
JOHNNY HANEY up on the roof looking to see if I've got "issues" up there which caused the ceiling to drip. Do you have gutter needs? If so, there's no one better at getting them attended to than Johnny. His number
is 301.537.6667. Save that number, because Johnny shows up on time, does immaculate work and sends a reasonable bill in the mail.

Next up: the fire detector man, who hopefully will solve the problems in that department. Just another lovely day in home ownership...and this is before Nathans even wakes...the business I own, and intend to own as long as they let me.

It's not worth much more than the cost of a text message, but please remember you read here in April that
STAR JONES had been 86'd by The View, as revealed by TAMMY HADDAD at a dinner party hosted by JOSEPH WILSON and VALERIE PLAME. In other words, know your source and trust your source. Also at that dinner, in addition to the prediction of Star's fate, others told us that HILLARY CLINTON would not run for president and that the U.S. would bomb Iran.

 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28... The morning after and no hangover, no depression, no sadness, no regrets. Perhaps I'm even a tiny bit relieved. Since I was not certain how the vote would go, I booked myself a few indulgences for this morning, particularly an hour with LANCE ETCHISON at BlueMercury. He can make a no win into a win. If the skin glows, so glows the spirit, too. Right?

Running for office was an interesting experience from beginning to end. I learned a lot about myself - definitely not a politician - and others, particularly that people care and do want to get involved, even if only with their vote. I will not forget
DAVID DUNNING's enthusiasm, DAVID ABRAMS' generosity, PAM MOORE's support, MARY CARROLL PLATT'S help , JACK EVANS' encouragement,TOM BIRCH's (alarming) frankness. Only one person was rude and inappropriate, but everyone in the 'hood has her number anyway and so she doesn't matter. It was a delight to see so many neighbors and friends show up in the drenching rain to vote for me. We weren't a large enough army, but we tried. And good luck to GUNNAR HALLEY and the other commissioners. I don't think I'll run again, but never say never.

LATER: the day sailed on nicely, especially with the good words from neighbors and friends, who commended the campaign and then, like me, put it behind them. The entire neighborhood felt like it was celebrating - sunshine! It has been several very wet days since we've seen the sun. Of course, the reappearance of the sun is not good for business at Nathans, but we do have Wimbledon and we do have the World Cup. And, according to weather.com, we will again soon have rain.

I snuck away to have a last lunch at La Chaumiere before it changes hands and mid-soft shell,
JON MOSS phoned to say ADT was reporting a fire alarm at my house. Dropped my fork and knife, grabbed my straw bag, told Geraldine "I'll be back," and tore up the hill to home, hoping it was nothing. Running in sandals is not fun. I could hear the fire engine wailing as I awkwardly galloped toward the house, arriving with time enough to open the door, lock up the bird, get a leash on the dog and, breahtless, inform the four firemen at the door, "I don't smell any smoke, and I just got here myself." What we found, at the top of the stairs, was water dripping through the smoke alarm. Now, how is it that after five days of rain, with a new roof and no dripping, that when the rain ends I get a leak? Beats me. Darn the luck. So, I bid the nice firemen farewell, put a pan under the leak, left a message for JOHNNY HANEY, released the bird, patted the dog, and then returned to La Chaumiere to finish my soft shells, my glass of French chardonnay, and my reading about the Israeli soldier whose kidnapping by Palestinaians, I fear, could start a new war in the Middle East.

As much as I care about my neighborhood, it's the big world out there that I care about more...

TUESDAY, JUNE 27... At last, ANC election day is here. If you live in the northeast quarter of Georgetown, the ANC2E06 district, please remember to vote this evening at Christ Church, 31st and O, between 6:30 and 9 p.m. The polls close at 9 sharp, after which the votes will be counted and the new commissioner announced. When I say the "polls," it is actually a box that will be placed in the middle of the room, for all to see.

My campaign manager,
MYRA MOFFETT, is finally back from the beach. Last night we strategerized over a vodka and tonic. She allowed as how she's never been involved in a winning political campaign. Well, I've never won anything, except long ago when I was voted captain of the cheerleaders and once was a distant runner up for homecoming queen. THAT was very odd, given my high school experience was much like being the goth in a Lily Pulitzer fantasy.

Usually on election day the media focus on the candidates day, dishing up pulp in the hours until the polls close. I should do the same here. First of all, woke up at 2 a.m., wondering "Will they vote? Won't they vote? Will they vote? Won't they vote? Will they? Won't they?" Then resumed my needed zzzzz's. Up early to walk the dog. Hoped to see some constituents, but no, only some birds. Woke up the child, who would not eat breakfast as protest for my making him return for a second day of basketball camp at Georgetown. He refused dinner last night, also. I swam 50 laps but the chlorine was so thick I now have permanent red eye. All day it will look like I've been crying, which will either work for or against me with the voters. I think against. Who wants to vote for a cry-baby?

Regular morning phone call with
JON MOSS, during which we talked about Nathans best buddy, MARTY SKOLNIK, the leaky ceiling, the back wall, business last night (not great but okay) the "to do's" of the day ahead. Breakfast of two tiny brioche from Poupon, bacon from Dean and DeLuca, Illy coffee from Balduccis, Red Current preserves JIM SPELLMAN brought back from London, and a bowl of blueberries from Fresh Fields, with campaign soldiers Leo and Ozzy nearby. Leo's role is to beg for scraps of bacon, while Ozzy screeches.

Applied some self-tanning lotion over the visible parts of my flesh. The theory being that a viable candidate should look like they spend time outdoors, rather than hidden inside, possibly writing detailed memoes to Homeland Security in a tiny scrawl around all the edges of an envelope in a circular motion going toward the center.
It's nutty enough that I have co-chairnimals of my campaign.

Now I must put on my best election day bib and tucker and prepare for leaving my cave; off to Nathans basement and then lunch with
RACHEL PEARSON at Milano. I look forward to this, because Rachel is groovy company. She offered to do a fundraiser for Nathans, but I've told her no, thank you. She understands.

LATER...Lunch with Rachel was as diverting as I expected. We talked 1% about the election and 99% about everything else, which was sane of us. My election day lunch was one piece of bread, some olive oil, poached salmon with asparagus and fennel, a glass of Pinot Grigio, and a de-caf cap. All good.

Nathans seemed busy enough, which is also good. No water dripping in the dining room, thankfully. Returned home to walk the dog and then, in my campaign dress, I got drenched to the bone. We were too far from the house to escape the torrent. Dress compromised and I think the same thing happened to my lathered on tan. Now, once again, I look like a kookoo who stays locked in doors all day.

Now my campaign manager and I will walk the dogs with hopes of having face time with multitudes of voting constituents. I have done an informal tally and a good 20 members of my voting base are out of town.

LATER: Myra and I did about 5 blocks door to door, dropping my little postcard once again, which will make the residents either hate me or go, "oh, yes, we must go vote!" Myra is certain it will be the latter. Ha! Who but ducks go out in this weather? I'm once again soaked, and fairly pathetic looking, too. While I had been weighing a couple of options for tonight, a fetching red, white and blue jersey or a sincere light blue linen, the wisest choice is probably my sturdy foul weather gear.

MONDAY, JUNE 26... Since some of you have asked for a way to help in our struggle with the DC government, and I won't take your money, an option is to write to MARTY SKOLNIK, head of the property tax office. It's a good email to have, because if you live in DC he can make life heaven or hell. His email is martin.skolnik@dc.gov.

Has anybody ever said... when it rains it pours? Kind of catchy, eh? Here at Nathans that certainly applies. I'm writing from the dark, musty, frighteningly claustrophic basement office, where one lightbulb hangs from a cord above my desk, an antique partners' desk that is really quite handsome underneath the piles of saloon flotsam and jetsam. I'm sitting in the squeaky, wobbly desk chair that was Howard's back in the day, and is now one of the few chairs here that doesn't nearly collapse when sat upon. But soon.

The office fortunately is dry. During one of these summer monsoons several years ago I arrived in the morning to find 4 inches of water flooding the basement, gushing in from a hole in the sidewalk on M Street. The manager at the time, who was not accustomed to the kind of crisis management that is required here, sat at his desk, water above his ankles, staring at the mess, and doing nothing. "Did you call the plumber?" I asked. "Ah, no." "Maybe you should," I said. "I guess," he replied in a daze . He quit soon after.

Today the dining room ceiling is under control. It is sort of patched up. To fix it we have to get the roof repaired and the mortar pointed up around the roof. This is a big and expensive project, between $7-10,000, and difficult to afford when the DC govt has got their check on the plate for $15,000 - no exuses accepted. The management style I've adopted since inheriting this place is to put out the fire that is flaring in my face, and since I'm always, ALWAYS, treading through fires, I fight the fire that is MOST in my face. Just call me Red Adair. And, I know, it makes no sense to be talking fires when it's raining buckets.

The upside of the rain is we're slammed for lunch. The downside is our bartender quit without giving notice because he got a job teaching, and so the genl manager,
HOCKLEY WALSH, is tending bar and our office manager, JON MOSS, is waiting tables. Well, this way they get to see some daylight rather than the airless gloom of the basement. But Mondays are a busy office day.

I listened to WTOP for a while this morning and the reporting of the rain made me realize the city had gone into full blizzard mode, when we residents of Washington roll over on our backs and suck our thumbs. Rain or snow, precip makes us big babies. The only other city as dysfunctional in rain is Los Angeles, but they have an excuse: it never rains in southern California.

Lastly, the dove on our back porch hatched her babies. Two little feathery heads have appeared in the nest under her wings. Pics soon.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25... Where Nathans is concerned I'm somewhere betwen Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I keep saying, "the sky is falling, the sky is falling," but only a few who know I'm right. Everyone else believes I'm simply being dramatic. Well, tonight a friend and I went to dinner at Nathans and, thanks to the rain, the ceiling began to fall. And in the ladies room there's something of a waterfall over one of the toilets. This is because the roof is leaking and it leaks all the way down to the dining room. With the few $$$ we've got, we make repairs when we can, but I think today's gushers did all that in, and so it gave way with pieces of the ceiling falling into booth 22 or 21. We called the manager who said there was nothing he could do. We got some plastic and gaffer tape and did a patch, patch, patch, but with the next burst of rain it came down, too.

Welcome to Nathans, where I have to decide whether to use what few dollars we have to pay the Office of Tax and Revenue so they don't close us on July 10 or pay to have the roof repaired so the ceiling doesn't completely fall in. There is no easy answer. And this is assuming a roof repair company would even show up. Most of them know us and don't take our calls. That's what happens when you're known as a deadbeat.

Once upon a time I loved summer because it was slow and easy. Then I inherited Nathans and learned to hate summer because it meant no business and more debt. I also used to love rain, because it was soothing and comfy and made me want to snuggle close with someone dear. Then I inherited Nathans and now I hate rain, seeing it as a demon that has the power to bring down the building.

Of course, there would be no reason to loathe summer or rain if I had a lease that wasn't crushing me and the business and that enabled me to get essential repairs done in a timely fashion.

Nonetheless, while the sky was falling my friend and I found courage and enjoyed a lovely, delicious dinner and an awesome bottle of 1997 Spring Mountain Reserve Cabernet. The room was 3/4's filled with happy customers, who did not know of my misery. Later I went to Dean and DeLuca and bought a bag of chocolates and ate almost all of them before picking up Spencer at basketball camp at Georgetown. Now, as I write this, it's a torrent again and I'm quite afraid to pick up the phone to call Nathans. I already know what they'll tell me.

EARLIER...Got up this morning and went for a 45 minute run in the drenching rain, spreading positive voodoo among the constituent neighborhood. Fun dinner last night at the casbah with
LESLIE COCKBURN, ANDREW COCKBURN and ANTHONY HADEN GUEST. The casbah and rain: momentary antitdotes.



SATURDAY, JUNE 24...
Okay. I'm over my disgruntlement now. Checking into the Loews for The Lake House and an hour and a half of KEANU REEVES helped. What also helped was counseling myself, with help from friends, that I'm not a politician, don't have a politician's rhino skin, and have to accept that in politics it's not personal.

EARLIER
... Two more hours of door to door this morning. The humidity is a challenge and makes me hope no one opens the door when I'm on their doorstep, because what they'll get is one haggard and dripping candidate. I got stopped in a friendly way by a voter who said, "everybody is voting for (one of the other candidates) because the feeling is you can't be impartial because you own Nathans, and that you won't have any time."

It hurt my feelings, but I have to be strong about that. Still, I can't emphasize enough how I don't want Nathans to hobble me with this election. My running, for me, has not to do with Nathans. It has to do with being a resident of Georgetown for many years - before Nathans and likely after Nathans. I need to have some parts of my life, please, that are not victimized by Nathans.

I'm weary of this issue, but why not one more time? Inheriting a sole proprietor business in Georgetown should not be a blackmark. We are under an onslaught of chains and corporate outlets here. I have been Nathans life support for 9 years, trying to save my own ass but also to save the building from becoming a Kwik Kopy or a junk retailer. THAT's what voters should be concerned about, and appreciate a sole proprietor who tries to keep some uniqueness in the Georgetown business mix. Besides, judge me by what I've done: the Q&A lunches, which have been good for me and the community. The notion that because I have a liquor license I will be softer/harder with others who have liquor licenses is phooey.

I've been a journalist a lot longer than I've been a bar owner, and a pet owner and a woman, too, so does that mean I'll be softer/harder on residents who want to put an addition on their kitchen because they also happen to work in journalism, or own a dog (like me) or be a woman (like me). Nonsense. I actually think the people who don't own liquor licenses are harder/softer on the people who have them or want them. My fairness skills are finely honed. So, judge me by who I am and not by some stereotype that has nothing to do with me.

I'm running for the ANC, not the ABC board.

As for my time. For the last many years my time has belonged to my son. Easily 75% of my free time is his, especially in the evenings. But he is off to school in September, which is one reason I thought the ANC would be appealing. A chance to give back as well as something to fill up the lonely hours.

If the ANC doesn't happen, I'll be disappointed if I lost because of Nathans. And for you readers who live outside DC, welcome to what happens to a part of the U.S. when it is not a state and voters have no real power. We get bogged down on non-issue issues.



FRIDAY, JUNE 23...
It's late afternoon and I'm just returned from 3 hours of going door to door, leaving my postcard. Sigh. I love Georgetown, but goodness do we have a lot of stairs. It began to feel practically Alpine.

Wandering the neighborhood as I did put me in touch with every home, and some news. The most alarming news was that La Chaumiere has been sold. Gerard and his wife are gone, and Geraldine will be gone at the end of next week. Makes me want to eat dinner there every night for the next seven. Will it change? Who knows? New ownership always means change even when they swear it won't. In this case the new owner is the chef, which gives hope. I have many memories there, and I want them preserved. Plus it represents precisely the kind of restaurant Georgetown needs and deserves.

I hope voters appreciate my campaign posters that were worked on last night and this morning. Much like the photos to the right, they feature Leo and Ozzy, and no, no animal cruelty was involved. Actually, Ozzy loved playing with and tearing to shreds the little paper "Vote for Carol" signs I gave to him. Leo wore his placard for all of 30 seconds, and then was generously rewarded. He knows how to pose as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Every living thing in our household is accustomed to getting roped into one kind of photo project or another over time.
Spencer is pleased he's not been called upon to be used as a campaign prop.

The group who shoot the Q&A lunches for the web, IMG TV, have invited me to be their guest tonight at the annual dinner of Women in Film, Video and TV. Should be fun. It's at one of the Hiltons, anf I don't mean Paris or Nicky. Suppose I ought to find out which one. If the sky opens up again as it did last night I am wearing galoshes and foul weather gear. What a storm! What a lot of rain! It woke me at midnight. By 1 a.m., ALL of us were in my bed, my entire campaign retinue (minus manager MYRA MOFFETT, who's at the beach for 2 weeks), with Leo shaking like a vibrator on crack. He and Spencer both went under the covers. At times the lightning came so fast and furiously it was like strobe lights. One particular crash of thunder made us dive for the floor, certain the big tree was about to crash through the roof.

We had another good night at Nathans. Keep it up, folks. It's making a difference. You have no idea. If we can continue at this level for the next 15 days we will have dodged another mortar. It gets tiring, though, dodging disaster. But I'm not going to write about survival fatigue until after we've actually survived.

So, for now, time to soak my feet and change gears from candidate to a woman of video and the all encompassing web.

THURSDAY, JUNE 22...Up early to pass out some campaign postcards. Voters ask this question: "What is your position on the Friendly estate?" My position is simple: From what I know of the facts, and I may know facts laced with gossip, I think it's not right for Georgetown. It's one thing if people want to move their kitchen from the ground floor to the first floor, or expand their back porch by 4 feet, or put in a new bathroom, but it's something altogether different when a developer wants to substantially alter the arrangement of homes on a particular block, or to make something that is more appropriate in McLean or Potomac than in Georgetown. If I'm elected I would learn more, though, and form an opinion based on research and the sentiment of residents who appear before the commission.

Today I will try to have Nathans be less of a screaming demon in my head, a medusa on my soul. We've done what we can to try to halt the current death spiral. (We struggle with about two a year) Our efforts either will or won't work. We learned today that OTR is likely NOT going to accept our appeal. (And they wonder why residents and businesses flee from this city). To the best of our ability what we must now achieve are 16 days of strong business during one of the slowest periods of the year. If we can pull some good numbers, we can make it. Everyone on the staff is working toward that goal. D-Day is July 7. I've resolved not to take friends' money, or to have a fundraiser. We will do it on our own. Having come to these conclusions, I slept last night. What a relief!

Earlier ADAM MAHR and I visited the new Rugby Store and Cafe. It's a lively concept; RALPH LAUREN meets Abercrombie with some California and Five Guys thrown in. My son and a buddy earlier declared it "delish." Other teens checked it out while we were there. That's the audience they need to please: 14-19. If they get them they will do well. Adam and I scanned the threads, a feast of madras, seersucker, and skulls with crossbones, had a sandwich and salad, enjoyed ourselves and then took a long walk along the water to acknowledge the first day of summer.

Today I return the car the dealer gave me to substitute for my lemon and I reclaim the lemon. It's not a perfect solution but it seems to be the only way NOT to be locked into a 3 year lease with the wrong car.

I got this email last night from
BO BLAIR, owner of Jettie's sandwich shop on Foxhall:

"We are starting our Summer Barbeques at Jetties this Sunday from 5pm-8pm. We will be grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc. There is also half-price ice cream all night. We have a bunch of outdoor seating and plenty of parking. Please try to come by. We will be doing this all summer long on Sunday evenings. Please forward this email to friends of yours. Our website is jettiesdc.com- Thanks." What a treat.

Doves still nest in one of the light sconces on my back porch. I consider it an omen and leave them alone. ...back to the campaign trail, such as it is here in the 06 district of Georgetown.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21...
Just the biggest possible round of applause to CONNIE CHUNG for giving us the most brilliant and gutsy bit of performance art to grace the tube or computer screen, possibly even since PARIS HILTON. Connie, if this is what you'd been doing each week on the MSNBC show it might have given Idol a run for the ratings. I watch it at http://www.youtube.com. You can, too. When you get there click on videos, and then click on "Most Viewed" and then scroll down till you find Connie's thumbnail and click on it. Or, in the search window enter her name. Her rolling off the piano top, with a delicate grunt, gave me the laugh that was needed.

The Georgetown Current hit doorsteps today with
REGINA LEE's page one story about the ANC election next Tuesday. Her reporting of our interview is fair. It represents my general point of view, though when I said I would like a grocery at Georgetown Park I referred specifically to the Trader Joe's that West End got. It would have been a real plus to have that store in the mall, drawing residents into the building. I have made peace with the mall, but the peace would be sweeter if it had some stores that were resident-friendly, like grocery, pharmacy, hardware, in addition to the DMV. What about doctors and bakers and candlestick makers? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have versions of Neam's and Reed Electric in there? Or, for that matter, the True Value that Burleith got. Oh, to have it be a "village" mall rather than a routine tourist mall. How new century.

Anyway, each of the candidates is profiled, making it simple for voters to decide who they prefer. The hard part will be getting those same voters to come to the ANC meeting Tuesday evening to vote. There's no other way to vote in this election but to be there.

My little campaign cards are done. I will distribute them this weekend.

Last night I could have worked at CVS or Kinko's, because I was awake ALL night. Actually, I fell asleep as usual shortly after 10 pm. Woke up at midnight and was awake until the sun rose and the birds began chirping at 5:30 a.m. My mind just would not rest. It shifted screens from Nathans, with subscreens of taxes and lease, and then from Nathans to the ANC race, from the ANC race to child-rearing, from child-rearing to the new Blackberry, from the Blackberry to the car lease, and then back again to Nathans. Nathans made the most appearances and prompted the most fitfull moments, usually involving torment, self-pity, self-loathing, total fear, and submission. I turned on the TV. Nothing moronic or monotnous enough to lull me to sleep, not even Real Sex. Turned on the radio, and could tune in only multiple stations focused on extra-terrestrials and UFO's; WBZ in Boston heralding the beginning of summer in a maddening way - maddening does not prompt sleep, and all news radio, which hit me with the fact that PHILLIP MERRILL's death was a suicide, which only heightened my fundamental despair. Surfed the web. Read DAVID PATRICK COLUMBIA's marvelous website, New York Social Diary, and sent him an email asking him to do a lunch. Amazingly, he wrote back! And said yes! That was a sweet moment. "How odd," I wrote, "for both of us to be awake." His writing/reporting on CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG and KATIE COURIC: gems, and gutsy.

Then I tried some yoga breathing, some stretching, some banging my head against the wall. But still wide awake, with the same scenarios as before playing on repeater loops in the multiplex of my mind. "This is aging me," I thought. "It's got to stop. I have to go to sleep." The dog, all 9 pounds of him, got up, walked over, twirled around and curled into a ball at my neck. "This will do it," I thought. "This is love and it will soothe me. My sweet little pet." Still, though, as he snoozed I remained wide awake.

Relief came with dawn. I slept for an hour. Got up, went to G.U., did 50 laps in the pool, and started my day.



TUESDAY, JUNE 20...
If you live in Washington, DC, or work here, or visit here, or spend only a little time here, you should read every frightening word of the coverage about the city's report on the murder of New York Times correspondent DAVID E. ROSENBAUM. Disgrace, shame, contempt, outrage, only start to describe what all of us should feel toward the city officials who are in charge of our safety. Know this: what happened in the aftermath of Rosenbaum's mugging could happen just the same to you or a loved one or friend. No matter what the police, fire and politicians are saying to cover their you-know-whats, it's unlikely anything will change. Some hands will be slapped, maybe a head will roll (or be permitted to quietly retire), but the system will go on dysfunctioning as it has for years. It underscores the truth about Washington, DC, that most people won't own up to: it doesn't function well. There is flab and lethargy and disinterest and an overwhelmning sense that no one really cares. Not unlike the emergency operator in, I think, Detroit who when a little boy called to say his mother had collapsed and needed help, scolded him for calling in the report and did nothing. She did nothing. The mother died.

In January, Fire chief
ADRIAN THOMPSON, said "everything possible," was done to care for Rosenbaum. The Inspector General's report says just the opposite, and cites an "unaccpetable chain of failure" by fire, police and Howard University hospital workers. If you can't rely on the the police, the fire department or the hospital to save you, what have you got?

Again, I think Georgetown should secede from the District of Columbia, set up our own government, using our own tax dollars, and I will try to find a way to propose that if elected to the ANC. Everyone who lives here or visits this city deserves better, but I can begin with my neighborhood.

LATER... I try to be honest here, and 99% of the time I am, but to be honest today would bring the entire Diary readership down to too low a low. My day was spent swinging between wanting to vomit and wanting to cry, after reading a morning email from the DC government. Oh, hell, I did wear sunglasses for a while to hide the tears, but that kind of reaction is just too weak for me to own up to. I fear this won't go our way, and D-day is Thursday, and by early July there's a chance Nathans could be closed and over. I hope not, but today I realized I have to prepare for that possibility. It has been coming for 9 years, and I've been swimming in quicksand, respirator for a small business, managing the odds, and begging the landlords for, literally, a new lease on life. The new lease could solve the problems that are strangling us now. Am I out of tricks? I don't know. ADAM MAHR, bless him, said, "I don't have a lot but you can have what you need." Another friend said, "just tell me how much." RACHEL PEARSON, who may be an angel, said, "one call, Carol, that's all it takes and I will pull together whatever is needed." Before that I want to try to do it on my own. My personal reserves are tapped out, though, and more bank debt is the last thing I need...but if it can keep us open I may have no choice. Funny, isn't it, how the DC will so quickly give up a quarter of a million a year in sales tax dollars. But if we can make $15,000 between now and July 10, we're saved...until the next crisis.


MONDAY, JUNE 19...
Heard nothing from my car dealer today, but are we surprised? No. Regardless, it was a day devoted to malfunctions. The poor Blackberry I lacquered with raw ice cream basically died. Actually better to say it had dementia. It's insides were working but no credible way to communicate. I tracked down ANTHONY BERRY, who sold it to me at the Bethesda T-Mobile last summer. He's now at 11th and E, and willing to work with me, which is why I prefer T-Mobile over ALL the others, and I've danced with ALL the others at one time or another. Anthony set me up with a new Blackberry and a new contract. While you might say, Oh, Carol, how is this different from your gripe against the car dealer who saddled you with a new 3-year lease after taking back your lemmon, I will say this: my Blackberry wasn't a lemmon. It was I who did it in. I would have re-upped with T-Mobile anyway and with an upgraded Blackberry. Today I did it two months early, and got a little bit a of a break.

The hard part was getting the data from the old BBerry to the new BBerry, which involved lots of michigas, but was ultimately saved by BBerry tech support. You call them, they call you back, they are in this hemisphere, they speak English, it gets done, and I was back in business. Unlike the car dealer, I got what I wanted. But, we'll see. The car dealer deadline is tomorrow. I've called, left mesages, they haven't been returned. It could be the showdown in the showroom.

Thank God I had the shrink today. You can't own Nathans and not have a good psychiatrist. We don't see each other often, but he saves my sanity, and therefore my life, every time we meet. Today I cried for only about 15 minutes. That's good. I could have cried for twice that amount of time, but I loathe feeling sorry for myself. It wastes time. My agenda was simple. No resolution with city, no resolution with landlords, no resolution with shortness of life. The latter has to do with fear that entire adult life will be spent on survival treadmill and none on the beach of decadent pleasures.

Dinner tonight - between thunderclaps and monsoon rain - at sweet Bistro Le Pic with wonderful friend
AUBREY SARVIS, who listens as an art form. The gazpacho was just right, and the soft shelled crabs were sweet and chewy/crunchy. We came back to the house for the famous and murderous mint ice cream. After all, how many batches of ice cream can claim to have killed a PDA? We forgave and enjoyed. Given that it had lost some of its cream but none of the yolk it is now more of a gelato; an excellent gelato.

I am so weary. It's only Monday and I feel like an old dog at the end of a long race. I must recharge tonight, because HDNet is coming to interview me in the morning about people who provide services that save time for the rest of us. I will talk about the car guy,
GREGG CAMPBELL, who saves huge chunks of time for me. But I'm an HD fiend, largely because it's fun to see people's faces as they really are with creases and ruts and make-up lines. How do I deal with that? I've decided to follow my morning routine of swimming 50 laps, thus chlorinating my eyes to a near fuschia, and then letting my hair go to its natural BLYTHE DANNER WASP-FRO, and basically no make-up. Why risk it?

The BBerry cost me most of today, literally and figuratively. Tomorrow I MUST work on my campaign. No matter what. I have been stopped by several people who want to vote for me:
BILL PLANTE and ROBYN SMITH, WALTER ISAACSON, JON DONVAN, HENRY VON EICHEL, AUBREY, THE MOFFETTS, several others, who all will be out of town. So many say, "I want to vote for you but I'll be out of town." That's okay. What will be will be. I'm prepared to work my derriere off for this job, but if I don't get it I'll be okay and I'll back the winner 100%.

SUNDAY, JUNE 18... I've figured out what's eating at me all weekend: it's the car I'm leasing. Or, to be precise, it's the car replacing the car I'm leasing. The car I was leasing was a lemon. Even my service rep said, "it's a nightmare. Do me a favor, have sales give you a replacement." And I, trying to be the good girl, was very happy when sales said they would give me a new car to replace the lemmon. But when I went in on Friday to do the deal the first order of business was my having to agree to a new 3-year lease. "But I don't want a three year lease," I said. "My lease at Nathans is up in 2 years and change and I will be unemployed. I don't want to be stuck with a 3 year lease." They said there was no other way to accomodate the replacement of the lemon.There I was at the desk with the guy, thrusting pen and paper toward me, while on the other side of the partition was Spencer and his buddy, Austin, eager to get on with their day, having declared the new car "cool," and I was like, okay, if this is what it takes to move on from the unsafe lemon, I'll sign.

I went to the head of the department, popped my head in his door, and said, "you know, I'm signing this lease but I will likely be unemployed and destitute before it is up. I want you to know that. I don't think it makes sense to give me a three year lease." He said, "don't worry. Take the car, enjoy it, we'll work the rest out when the time comes." Okay, I said, being the good girl.

But all weekend I drove out to Davidsonville and back in the new car, enjoying it's newness, but thinking, "maybe I got screwed." Not because they weren't nice, or because it's not a nice car, but I went in wanting to fulfill my lease that would be up in March. I came out with a new lease that's up in three years. My car was a dud. I knew it. They knew it. Somehow I went in wanting what I wanted and I came out with what they wanted. And you know, this ties into Father's Day. I hate these sentimental occasions because they always, ALWAYS, suck me back into the Hallmark version of the "life I had." And in that Hallmark version Howard was the all-purpose protective male who dealt with the guy stuff, like cars, car purchases, leases, and car guys. It was not my strong suit.

So now tomorrow I have to try to be tough and strong and work this out, but past experience has taught me they will EAT ME ALIVE. They will find ten ways from Wednesday to show me I signed my life over to them, and they will wave it in my face, and in the end I will leave feeling like the same dusty, crusty dirt my son played lacrosse in today. Oye. It won't be the first time. I've been okay as a woman alone in the world, not tough but tough enough, and yet there's often the morning after when I realize I wasn't as tough as I needed to be. For example, I've had three contractors do deals with me to fix my rotting back steps and in all three instances they never showed up on the start date or any other day thereafter. I've had four plumbers do work on my leaky bathtub, each making it worse, to the point where I now refuse to let anyone work on it and hold the damned thing together myself with gaff tape and wire.


SUNDAY, JUNE 18...
I have figured out what's eating at me all weekend. It's the car I'm leasing. Or, to be precise, it's the car replacing the car I'm leasing. The car I was leasing was a lemmon. Even my service rep said, "it's a nightmare. Do me a favor, have sales give you a replacement." And I, trying to be the good girl, was very happy when sales said they would give me a new car to replace the lemmon. But when I went in on Friday to do the deal the first order of business was my having to agree to a new 3-year lease. "But I don't want a three year lease," I said. "My lease at Nathans is up in 2 years and change and I will be unemployed. I don't want to be stuck with a 3 year lease." They said there was no other way to accomodate the replacement of the lemmon.There I was at the desk with the guy, thrusting pen and paper toward me, while on the other side of the partition was Spencer and his buddy, Austin, eager to get on with their day, having declared the new car "cool," and I was like, okay, if this is what it takes to move on from the unsafe lemmon, I'll sign.

I went to the head of the department, popped my head in his door, and said, "you know, I'm signing this lease but I will likely be unemployed and destitute before it is up. I want you to know that. I don't think it makes sense to give me a three year lease." He said, "don't worry. Take the car, enjoy it, we'll work the rest out when the time comes." Okay, I said, being the good girl.

But all weekend I drove out to Davidsonville and back in the new car, enjoying it's newness, but thinking, "maybe I got screwed." Not because they weren't nice, or because it's not a nice car, but I went in wanting to fulfill my lease that would be up in March. I came out with a new lease that's up in three years. My car was a dud. I knew it. They knew it. Somehow I went in wanting what I wanted and I came out with what they wanted. And you know, this ties into Father's Day. I hate these sentimental occasions because they always, ALWAYS, suck me back into the Hallmark version of the "life I had." And in that Hallmark version Howard was the all-purpose protective male who dealt with the guy stuff, like cars, car purchases, leases, and car guys. It was not my strong suit.

So now tomorrow I have to try to be tough and strong and work this out, but past experience has taught me they will EAT ME ALIVE. They will find ten ways from Wednesday to show me I signed my life over to them, and they will wave it in my face, and in the end I will leave feeling like the same dusty, crusty dirt my son played lacrosse in today. Oye. It won't be the first time. I've been okay as a woman alone in the world, not tough but tough enough, and yet there's often the morning after when I realize I wasn't as tough as I needed to be. For example, I've had three contractors do deals with me to fix my rotting back steps and in all three instances they never showed up on the start date or any other day thereafter. I've had four plumbers do work on my leaky bathtub, each making it worse, to the point where I now refuse to let anyone work on it and hold the damned thing together myself with gaff tape and wire.

But I'm blessed with an electrician,
JIM MARSHALL, who goes over the top to make sure my house is okay, and he helps on the maintenance stuff in ways that have nothing to do with the plugs and wires. And I do actually have a car guy, GREGG CAMPBELL, who helps with inspection and tags and so forth. He owns United States Vehicle Registration Service, and he's an ace. There's only so much he can do with my car deals, though, even if he is ready to punch the hustlers in the nose. Jim and Gregg are priceless. If only I had versions of them in every department of the functional maintenance of our day to day lives. When you don't have a husband you have to farm out everything to independent contractors. And while that is a laugh line, it's also true.

EARLIER... One of these days I want to get all my recipes organized. They are all over the kitchen and my office and other parts of the house, in loose leaf binders and in cigar boxes, and some are stuffed in the front flaps of cookbooks. I tore through everything today trying to find my recipe for mint ice cream, fearing the worst: that it was gone forever. Then, at last, it appeared - not where it should have been, but found just the same. Spencer asked me to make it as a Father's Day treat, because he fondly remembers my making it often for him and Howard in the summers out on the Bay after they would return to the house with hands full of fresh picked mint. Today I found my mint not in the garden but at Fresh Fields. The bunches are gorgeous and smell marvelous.

Here's the recipe, starting with ingredients:
2 cups chopped mint leaves
3 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
2 tbs mint extract

In a sturdy pot mix the mint leaves and milk and cook to a simmer. Once the simmer begins, set the pan aside off the heat and leave it covered for 10-15 minutes. After that strain the mint out and pour the milk back into the pot, adding 1 cup of cream. Pour 1/2 cup of sugar into the milk mixture in the pot.
Set aside.
Now whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until they turn light yellow and take on a silken texture. You will want to mix this into the milk/cream mixture, but because it will be hot add half of it to the yolks to bring their temperature up, and then pour the yolk mixture into the milk and cream in the pot. Turn the heat on low and stir with a wood spoon until cream thickens and sticks to the back of the spoon. It is done. Pour it into a metal bowl and plunge that metal bowl into a bath of ice water (a baking pan is good for this). Let it cool to room temp. Stir in the mint extract (or creme de menthe) and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker and have at it.

Now, don't do what I did today. After mixing the yolks back into the cream, and with the bowl in my hand, I dropped the whole thing on the kitchen counter and bombs away. I've worked in small kitchens before. Between writing the CBS Evening News for WALTER CRONKITE and producing for CHARLIE ROSE, I cooked on a 75-foot sail boat in the West Indies for several months. That galley was smaller than most powder rooms, but we whipped up meals for 8-9 people daily. My kitchen here at home is that small. One calamity and the whole room is compromised. Suffice it to say, now that I've finished cleaning up mint ice cream goop from just about every square inch of the kitchen, as well as off my wallet and Crackberry, I've decided to exercise my Father's Day prerogative: we're going out to dinner. Oh, but I did save the ice cream, with Spencer's immediate assist. We'll have that tomorrow.

Earlier. To fathers everywhere, Happy Father's Day. To their families, why not bring them to Nathans for a big brunch, ideally at a table in the bar in front of the big TV, which no doubt today will feature some soccer, some baseball and whatever else is happening on HD. In our house we celebrate the half of me that tries to be father. Remember that about solo parents: they are both, which is a test and a reward.



SATURDAY, JUNE 17 ...
Nine hours at a lacrosse tournament under a hot sun is a challenge, but it provides an opportunity to observe a lot. Today a couple dozen teams played at least three games each with two-hour breaks between games. The five playing fields at Davidsonville were parched; the breeze, when their was a breeze, was flukey. There were hundreds of people, some who camped in RV's, many under tents. They came with folding chairs and coolers. Mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, the little ones, all there for the day to cheer on a son or brother or nephew who plays with an elite travel team. It is one of the steps toward a shot at a champion college team, and the action is lively and good. At times the scene looked like a vast massing of armies in colorful attire with helmets and sticks. Teams would move from one field to another as a group, almost in formation. When they played and their feet dug into the arid dirt, or the ball hit the hard ground, dust clouds formed. In skirmishes the dirt enveloped them. I hid from the blaze under a sun umbrella, but still got too much sun.

This observation is meant with affection: men of a certain age and a certain (over) weight should try to avoid wearing shorts that have patch pockets, also known as cargo shorts. Not all men look good in cargo shorts, just as not all women look good in mini skirts. Both require long lean legs and a washboard tummy. A protruding gut runs counter to the objective. I don't care what the salesman said. Wearing the shirt untucked and hanging down to the hip bones only makes a tummy look larger. Ditto the Nikes and sport socks. We love you. We love all of you. If you must do this look, begin each day with 100 sit-ups and maybe ease up on the chips and dip.

One more: parents seem to yell and scream a lot during the games. What's that about? I'm not talking about cheering, which is fun and logical. The shouting is usually aimed at the shouter's own son, but some of it is aimed at other players, especially if the other players are in the way of the son. It's a lot of racket and often obscures what the coach is trying to tell the boys, and he's actually coaching them. Some of the yelling is angry and mean and upsetting. I asked my son about it. He said players don't like it, because it is distracting. They are trying to hear the coach, the ref and their own teammates, but often what they hear is a father or mother shouting at them to do this, not that, do this better, stop doing this, get over here, how could you be so dumb, do it over, try harder, be better. One of the refs stopped in front of some parents today and said, "can you please tone it down." That was sweet.

Back tomorrow for more games at 8:30 a.m., Yay!


FRIDAY, JUNE 16...
It's worth sitting down with USA Today for 10 minutes today to read and ponder the purple section piece on luxury hotels ramping up the perks per square inch. As I absorbed the reporting I thought about the Declaration of Independence. Is this why our forefathers brought on a revolution: so we could have a country that would produce bazzilionaires who require "bath" butlers, pillow menus and golf course massage therapists? I sat there at Furim's with my bacon and eggs, laughing out loud at each paragraph. Hey, all you rich folk out there, American soldiers are still dying for this country. Ease up a little on the silliness. If not, we'll get you butt butlers to wipe your you know what.

A new business has opened down the street from Nathans and we welcome them to the block. It's called Rugby, and while operated by a couple of darling Australians it is owned by
RALPH LAUREN. It's his challenge to the Abercrombie franchise and for me, as the parent of a teen, it's a needed addition to the neighborhood. One thing we don't have in Georgetown is teen action, and Rugby should change that, if at a price. It is a clothing store AND burger cafe, a stylish and trendy and more "mature" version of Five Guys or Johnny Rockets. It helps a lot that it is on the way to and from the Loews multiplex. Let's hope it catches on, because that space, once occupied by Houston's and then a dubious effort called The Wine Bar, needs some stability.

At Nathans we're celebrating the arrival of our panini machine, and by this time next week you will be able to come to the bar and enjoy one of three yummy types of panini: a breakfast panini, a Cuban or a vegetable panini. As they catch on we hope to add more versions to the menu.

Now I'm off to swallow a bottle of Prilosec and hope for the best...

LATER...the whole town was out at RFK tonight for the Nats-Yankees game, which unfortunately did not go our way. I was at Ray's The Steaks on Wilson Blvd, which did go my way: amazing grilled shrimp, unbelievable scallops, heavenly filet mignon that hit the tongue like beef flavored butter; mashers, mushrooms, creamed spinach, key lime pie, strawberries and cream. And I wonder why I've gained 5 pounds in the last month. That MICHAEL LANDRUM is one clever chef and restaurant owner. He's also his own man and takes no S*** from anyone. There are some people who want to put us in business together. Who knows? I obviously know little about the day I'm in and even less about tomorrow.


THURSDAY, JUNE 15...
Got a report this morning from the host for this website. It's a weekly report, detailing hits and so forth. The best news of all is that last Friday we reached 1,116 unique visitors. It slipped back down to 675, but has been hovering between 5-something and 6-something for a while. Yesterday 723 individuals read this page. Whoever you are, thank you. After all, who needs reality TV when there's this diary. One day on the inside at Nathans is enough reality for almost anyone.

Later...I'm going to try to stop bitching about things. Yeah, yeah, you say, good luck on that. Seriously. I've thought about it all day and realize the tension of the past few weeks has robbed me of my equanimity. I'm seeing life through a glass anxiously if not darkly. I'm human. I envy the happy people. I yearn not to have to rassle with the DC government to survive, or to have the uncertainty of a lease as a constant. But I know we all have something, even, I suppose in some way,
BILL GATES, who announced today he will step back from day-to-day duties at Microsoft.

Also, with the recent challenges facing Nathans, life has felt like being in a pinball game made of bonfires. I don't get anything done. Little bits here and there, but no solid chunks of time devoted to one project. I really want to focus on the re-do of the front room. I love that project. And to booking guests for the fall season of The Q&A Cafe, another project I love. Today I got positive responses from GEORGE STEVENS and PAT BUCHANAN. The forward motion stuff like that energizes. It's what we need more of.

And then there's my campaign for ANC, which has had to take a side seat if not a back seat for the moment. Next week, short of a conflagration, it gets my full attention. I have done up my campaign postcard and only have to get it down to Kinko's and printed, and then get it handed out door to door.

I went to the opening of the new "Bellini, Giorgione, Titian" exhibition at The National Gallery of Art (it's there till September and you MUST see it). I lingered before one work by
GIOVANNI GIROLOMO SAVOLDO, "The Torments of Saint Anthony." First of all, like all the paintings, it is extraordinary. It shows him tormented by demons, the fires of hell, and trying with all he's got to flee to a tranquil pastoral landscape. His prayer is, "When you think about God, let your habit be like wings to fly above the sea of fire."

Tomorrow's Friday, isn't it? Thank God for that.


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14...
Got through another tough day. There are people to thank. Always, to begin, JON MOSS, who is my rock. We're back and forth with each other throughout the day on this one. "Have you heard anything?" "No, have you." "Ok, I'll send anther email." "Here's what I've written. Whaddya think? Is it ok?" "If that doesn't get their attention, nothing will." "Ok, who can we call? Who else should we call?" And SCHANNETTE GRANT in JACK EVANS office, his chief of staff, who we contact ALL the time, and who does not give up the good fight, and Jack, too, of course, and NELSON DECKELBAUM, giving advice from the sidelines, and always BLACK OP, who is running a lonely battle on another front. We do not know whether we'll win, but we've finally reached the stage where we're talking to the boss of bosses. We may lose (God, I hope not), but at least we took our case to the toppest most possible place to be heard. Now we wait with voodoo and chanting and simple hope.

Speaking of the biz, today I read about friends from long, long ago,
NABIL KASSIR and EDMUND RUFFIN, who have had an epic time as masters of the entertaining night in Virginia Beach. I first went to their clubs, and met them, when I was 15. Back then there was nothing for a teenager that could outrank the excitement of going to their dance club "Peabody's." In fact, one of my first boyfriends played the saxaphone in the club band, "The Joker's Wild." To us little kids, Nabil and Ed were the coolest cats in town. We thought they walked on water. Nabil was even more exotic to us because he was from a place called Iraq. At the dentist's office today I picked up a magazine called "Virginia," and there inside was a marvelous piece about Virginia Beach and them and it brought me up to date on their lives since 1968, when I last knew them.

Now that i've inherited a bar, I think of them. What would we do without magazines in doctors' offices? How many times, thumbing through them, do you find something about an old acquaintance, or a recipe you'd been looking for since two years ago, or the place to rent the perfect cabin on the mountain by the lake at the price that makes sense, or the name of the little restaurant you heard about from someone but could not remember the details? I'm always finding good stuff like that while waiting in waiting rooms. Ever since Washingtonian did a piece on the Q&A Cafe I still get email asking to be on the mailing list. I'm certain these come from people who pickup old Washingtonian's on the pile in a doctor's office, which is very cool.


EARLIER...
At times like these songs play in my head. Lyrics like, "it's a a hard knock life," from Annie, or "I get knocked down, get up again, you're never gonna keep me down," from Chumbawumba. How many times have I danced to that alone late at night in the back room of Nathans? It could be the anthem of my inheritance.

Anyway, got through yesterday. Got nowhere but got through it. Wrote a pleading, begging, groveling letter to the OTR. Practically offered to crawl up anybody's pant leg who would help. But as I wrote yesterday it takes a village to save a restaurant, and the public has been awesome. Lots of people showed up yesterday afternoon to watch the soccer games. And then I got an email from a friend offering to spot me whatever money we need to survive the ax. Can you imagine? For me it was one of those "It's a Wonderful Life" moments that seem to come with owning my husband's saloon.

I have conflicted feelings, of course. I've always lived such a straight up life. Personally, I pay my taxes on time, try to avoid debt, and keep my accounts almost too squeaky clean. I'm little miss goody two shoes. I've worked hard, accomplished a lot, had great success in my other career. I never thought my professional life would be about begging bureaucrats for favors or needing to take money from friends. It's really a pathetic place to be, and there's no class that teaches you how to handle this moment. You try to hold your head high and "think about tomorrow," and clutch tight the lottery ticket with what you know are losing numbers. And laugh. The most important ingredient to survival is laughing as often as possible and usually at one's own self.


And here's the irony. Last night dear HENRY VON EICHEL and I went to a new restaurant named Agraria down on the waterfront. It's got super buzz. The people are very well-meaning and nice, but even they will admit it's having if not growing pains then at least opening pains. We had the sweetest waiter, JEFF ALEXANDER, who dropped Henry's martini on me. Yes, ON me. My scent became eau du Miller's Gin. But it was his first night and he handled the mishap with charm. And the restaurant bought us our very good bottle of Beaux Freres pinot noir, and also offered to pay for the dry cleaning of my brand new dress. Still, the place is an expensive if well-meaning comedy of errors, or at least last night it was. The chef has quit, after only two weeks on the job, and the service is bumpitybumpbump. There are friendly managers circulating everywhere, doing what they've been hired to do, but still seeming a little perplexed in their Prada-esque suits. It reached a point where we, and friends at nearby tables, found humor in the experience. I said to Henry, "There is so much money being spent here." I'm not wildly fond of restaurants that look like they should be in South Beach when they are not in South Beach, but this decor easily cost millions. The glassware and tableware and even the high gloss business cards all cost bundles of money. They have three managers on the floor and each has to be pulling down at least $35 or 40 thou a year, not to mention the payroll in the kitchen. But the owners, wherever they are - I'm told on farms in Minnesota - missed the point of why people come to restaruants. THEY COME TO EAT. All that other stuff is just hooey if a restaruant can't get the food cooked and on the table. Henry said none of it mattered because "they have the money to go on for years." It should be noted that when we got our food, my pasta was fresh house made pasta and very good. I cleaned my plate. But we went to Leopold's for dessert.

Of course, most of what I was feeling was envy.

At Nathans (where we can spill drinks, too) we have one manager on the floor, we print our business cards at Kinko's, our money came from my savings account and its empty, the staff uniforms are form Costco, I do the decorating, and we're in our own version of near collapse. If only I had Agragia's good fortune. On departure, I told Jeff if it doesn't work out for him at Agraria to come work for me at Nathans.

TUESDAY, JUNE 13... Gorgeous day on the outside, dying on the inside. The city handed us a devastating blow this morning. We have been trying to negotiate terms for getting some past due property tax paid by the deadline of July 12. It is our '05 property tax, which was difficult to get covered for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was we were still in recovery mode from the big dig on M Street - which caused profits to plummet while taxes stayed the same. Last summer, if you were reading here and remember, was one in which we were still paying bills from the previous winter. We nearly crashed, but didn't. Our property taxes are huge and cover the entire building, even though we use only the main floor and the basement. The only room in the building that makes any profit is the bar. So that one room, our sweet bar, pays for the whole show: taxes, rent, salaries, insurance and so forth. We get it done, but it is a monumental struggle that would be familiar to small business owners who aren't in a chain or corporate family. The thing that's wonderful and horrible about Nathans is that we are all we've got. We are independent and make our own way. We take care of ourselves. It's the way America was built.

To show our good faith to the city we scrambled and scrounged and came up with half the past due tax and got it to them over the past couple of weeks. We're talking many thousands of dollars.
JON MOSS worked his butt off getting it organized and even went downtown to OTR twice to work with them. We promised to get the bulk of the other half of the money to them by the deadline of July 12, if they would cut us some slack. I pointed out I employ 55 tax-paying individuals and that Nathans paid at least $250,000 in sales tax last year. And we pay our federal taxes. So this morning I got the email saying OTR won't help us out. Not only that, they say they have no record of our payments. (Don't worry. We have the receipts.) What this means is almost certain collapse unless we do October-level business over the next few weeks, which hardly happens in late June and early July. Thanks to the World Cup we're doing okay, but summer is typically a killer for us.

Remember, I started ths diary to give readers a chance to be inside the every day goings on in the life of a saloon owner. Well, this is what it's like. Warts and all. Fun on the ground floor, agony in the basement office. A packed bar, but man-eating taxes and rent. I don't give up. I haven't given up yet and I don't plan to give up today, either. Somehow I will work this out, with the help of friends, lawyers, people we know in the city government, and anybody I can find who knows how to do voodoo.

LATER: Operatic thank-yous to the Findaro family, who wrote to say they will celebrity their son Pat's graduation at Nathans. That's how a village saves a saloon.


MONDAY, JUNE 12...
Georgetown has a lot of amazing homes. So many of them look rather subdued from the front and then inside it is one glorious surprise after another. Last night, we saw the mother of all Georgetown house surprises. We went to a party at the newly renovated home of a young man who has a wildly successful tech business, but if someone said the home belongs to Jack Bauer or James Bond or P. DIDDY I would not be in doubt. It's immaculately rehabilitated with a lot of its 19th century details beautifully preserved. But then there's the button that once pushed causes a floor to lift up and reveal a secret staircase down to what appears to be a wine cellar, which it is. It's a handsome wine cellar that any collector would covet. But within the wine cellar is a false wall that leads to a secret door that goes to a subterranean master computer/control room. Ostensibly it is the "brains" of the house, but it looks like it could also be a missile launch control bunker.

Back upstairs it's one good room after another, and every room has at least one flat panel TV, wired audio, good art, great floors, walls done to an artful finish, especially the dining room with French glazed plaster. Hello? Who in Georgetown does that anymore?

One floor has a cozy bar with a huge fireplace that in its attention to quality and detail rivals any mainstream old school saloon. Adjacent to it is a compact and seductively quiet (from the outside world) screening room with a 60 or 70 inch screen and huge stuffed leather reclining seats. Not far from the screening room is a large room for pool and poker ... each game with its own table. This is the room with two flat panel TVs.

For all the goodies below, Spencer and I both loved the rooftop "playpen." A large space kitted out with chaises, a hot tub, a wall length grill/bar/kitchen set up, an embedded giant flat panel TV, wired music and a panoramic view of the nation's capital that trumps all others. Maybe I was seduced in part by the apricot, amber and rose sunset. Gives new meaning to the lyrics, "up on the roof." But that's where I'd be.

Trust me, from the outside none of this shows, which is what makes certain Georgetown homes such a sweet surprise.



SUNDAY, JUNE 11...
Whenever administration officials or generals say, as I they did today, that the Iraqi forces are or will be in charge and that the U.S. "is providing support," it sounds like when anybody says the DC government is in charge here and the feds only provide support. That's a funny one. They must think the American public are a band of fools.

After hearing this morning that Washingtonian Magazine publisher
PHILIP MERRILL very likely fell off his sailboat and drowned in the Chesapeake Bay, we turned off the news, got in the car and went for a long drive. Since our car's in the shop and we have a loaner and NO GPS we got lost, but ended up in lush Virginia at Gunston Hall. It is the 18th century museum home of GEORGE MASON, a framer of the U.S. Constitution. The house and decor are well preserved, but especially impressive is the pebbled path lined with ancient English boxwood, some with trunks as thick as a fire hydrant. We also enjoyed stopping for a while in the colonial kitchen as the cooks pulled together the ingredients for a sumptuous Sunday supper of roasted chicken with vegetables, fresh strawberries with hand-cranked vanilla ice cream using the recipe THOMAS JEFFERSON brought back from France. The smells were insanely good. I thought I would faint.

We meandered along the road and landed in Occoquan, which is small and quaint, though a little "cutsie" for me, but not without merit. There are a few cafes on the water, but a lot of work is being done and the views are obscured by cranes, heavy loaders and so forth. Most of the food seemed to be fudge, ice cream, cookies, coffee and more fudge and ice cream.

We started to follow signs that said "north" and arrived in, I think, Vienna and stopped at Dave's Famous Barbecue, where we enjoyed good ribs, chopped pork and chicken. It's a chain and the theme, expressed well inside, is Minnesota lumberjack.

Home now, counting the hours down to the launch of the new season of "Entourage," which sometimes makes me want to date men half my age, and other times not.

SATURDAY, JUNE 10...What an incredibly lovely day. To do: take lots of walks. Hang out with friends in the back yard. Swim. Think about those stuck on crowded beaches. Be happy you are wherever you are. Plan dinner with family or friends or both. Grill vegetables, salmon, steak on the Weber, or simply dial 338.2000 and make a reservation for Nathans. Ask to speak to Hockley or Dylan. You'll be well taken care of. Afterward, take a walk down by the waterfront and appreciate the new Swedish Embassy.


FRIDAY, JUNE 9...
For this household, school ended today. Which means waking at 5:30 in the morning ended, too. Remember what it felt like to be FREE for the summer? My gosh. This vast empty canvas to fill with fun and foolishness and friends. Time at the pool, time at the beach, time on my bicycle, time with a best friend talking about boys, time with boys, time doing absolutely nothing. I don't think teenagers have that luxury of time anymore. They have camps and little jobs and school trips, sports practice and often some classes. It's rush, rush, rush to get through the summer, to get back to work. As a teenager I wanted summer to last forever. Even as an adult. But once I inherited Nathans my relationship with summer changed. Summer, like winter, is a cruel time. Customers go away, though we have been seeing a slight upturn that JON MOSS attributes to gas prices. Can that be? I'll take the business. We need it.

Nonetheless, as Nathans owner, I find myself personally wanting summer to last forever but professionally wanting it to end tomorrow.

My son has graduated from 8th grade, from Middle School, and will begin high school in the fall. It's a big transition. Schools these days also make a big deal out of the transition, having formal "graduation" ceremonies as the children leave middle school. In my day, you just went from one school to another with no fanfare. I barely remember the occasion, though I was thrilled about high school because our school was brand new and had been set up to be the model for the county and the state. It was state of the art in every way. All of us felt a lot of pride. But it didn't last long. Ours was the era of the Kennedy assasination, both of them, the murder of Martin Luther King, the Vietnam war. Protest was the norm. About 15 years after the school opened a group of students set it on fire. The damage was extensive and when it was rebuilt and re-opened they changed the name and made it, ironically, into a middle school.

A few years ago I took Spencer there for a visit. Oddly, the hallways, lockers and classrooms were as I remembered them. Even the cafeteria and the auditorium. So familiar I could hear the echoes of my childhood. Spencer found the place "old and creepy." Of course. I showed him a plaque on the wall that commemorated when it was the school I knew it to be, when it was the jewel in the crown. Then I drove him down the road to the neighborhood service station to meet the boy who gave me my first kiss, which, by the way, happened on a summer's day.

These kinds of memories can help but return when school ends and summer begins.



THURSDAY, JUNE 8...
Dinner tonight at the Ritz with MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, Sen. HILLARY CLINTON, RUTH BADER GINSBURG, GEENA DAVIS, JEANE KIRKPATRICK, and about 200 other women, who gathered to welcome Bachelet back to Washington on an official state visit. (Remember when Presidents used to give White House dinners for visiting heads of state?) Madame Bachelet lived in Bethesda years ago, before losing her father, before becoming a political prisoner, before a career working her way through the highly charged, and macho, socialist political maze of her country. When we met I asked her where she went to school when she lived here. "Wood Acres," she said brightly. I was the date of my pal VPW, and we were guests of a congresswoman, and included at a VIP reception, where we spent most of our time talking to DEE DEE MYERS and DANA PRIEST. The dinner was women only. VPW said, "I really like that for a change." I said, "Only a married person could make that statement." What I liked about it was it meant I didn't have to wear make-up, or fuss with my hair, though I did wear a dress and so forth, even though most of the women were in suits. VPW and I were among the few women NOT wearing black. Where fashion is concerned, this town is the dreariest place."

Anyway, between the Chilean sea bass appetizer and the dessert of flan and cookies, specifically during the speech by Sen. Clinton, I had a revelation.
DAVID CHASE uses Hillary as the inspiration for Carmella Soprano. Somewhere, at some level, as some kind of muse, Hillary has to be in his head as he writes Carmella. Think about it. BILL CLINTON is Tony Soprano in terms of being the boss, the "private" life and outsize personality and body and "family" of soldiers who do his bidding, though in Clinton's case the mafia are mostly sycophantic men and fawning women. But Carmella is inching her way out from his shadow. She is one strong, purposeful woman, who could ultimately hold all the marbles.

As Hillary spoke I could hear women whispering -- because "mean girls" is not an age-specific personality type - "where are Bill and Belinda?"

Footnote: Hillary had cleavage. She was not in her uniform of open collared, jewel-colored blouse and dark jacket. She wore a lovely pale blue jacket with a slight gold necklace AND NO BLOUSE. I guess for her it's a blouse during daytime and no blouse after dark, but it doesn't matter; it was flattering.

EARLIER...This is probably not sane, but I sleep with a radio plugged into my ear. It's usually tuned to WCBS or WTOP or some other news radio station. So this morning quite early when it broke that
ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI had been killed in Iraq it jolted me awake. This was approximately 3 a.m., and my sleep was sporadic until dawn as I listened to the unfolding coverage. My first thought was of the families who lost loved ones to the will of this Al-Qaida leader. God knows he was the enemy of our soldiers and other Americans in Iraq and Iraqis who were not his followers. In terms of war he had to die. It is one in the win column for the so-called "war on terror." But even though the troops who killed him had a significant success, for me there's no feeling of victory or relief. Another zealot will take his place. The threat to our troops is no less. The war goes on. The only news that would make me feel relief and a sense of victory would be the immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Until then, we will continue the killing Iraqi insurgents and shamefully sacrificing our own young men and women.

People seem shocked by reports that Al-Zarqawi's family and followers are celebrating his death and calling him a martyr. Yes, the virginis in paradise and all that. It's disgusting, but it's how they make us crazy.

The other news on my mind was the report that
RICK KAPLAN resigned as president of MSNBC. Rick appeared at the Q&A cafe last year and I asked him if his job was secure. He said it was and would be into the future. Ah, the future, it has arrived. Rick is a friend of many, many years. He is a large man with a large personality and ideas and talent to match. He will surface someplace interesting. He always does. If you would like to listen to the interview it is availble at SOUNDTRACKS.

The Georgetown Current landed on our doorsteps yesterday without the story about the ANC race. Hmmm. I sent an email to the reporter asking if it had been postponed, which I assume. I have not heard back yet.

Last night I went to Washington Life's 15th birthday party at the Kuwaiti Embassy. As you know, WL publishes excerpts from the Q&A Cafe at Nathans each month. The party was impressive, if too, like, social for me. In situations like that I yearn to be invisible. Not possible so instead I nibbled on the delicious buffet of Middle Eastern foods. I did have a nice chat with CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS about making an encore appearance at Nathans. Saw some other friends, too, but ducked out early to meet Spencer at lacrosse try-outs at Georgetown University. No desire to be invisible there.


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7...
Because people have asked, I wrote to ANC chief commissiioner ED SOLOMON to find out whether voters could cast absentee ballots in the June 27th election. Here is the answer:
"There is no provision for absentee ballots in ANC special elections. The law requires the candidate to be selected by a vote of those at an ANC meeting. The ballots have to be counted at the meeting and the winner announced there."

I wrote back, "Ugh." This makes it more challenging for the candidates because the election is only a week before July 4th, a time when a lot of people take their summer holiday. Nonetheless, I will do my best to lure District 06 residents from their air-conditioned homes, out into the steamy evening and to Christ Church for an undoubtedly exciting ANC meeting. And, if I'm so fortunate to win, a victory party TBA. How's that for a bribe? Next I'll be offering massages at the Four Seasons, a new pair of shoes from Sassanova, and a year's worth of pancakes at Furin's.


TUESDAY, JUNE 6...
So many agitations this morning. Where to begin? The argument about gay marriage? Give me a break. Who cares? If gays want to marry, let them marry. Or, better, if we're going to care this much about something, or if our "leaders" are to care this much about something, maybe they should focus instead on the lunacy they unleashed in Iraq, or the lunacy that may be unleashed in Iran, or the new head of the Fed, who seems to be making market lunacy. And while on the subject of lunacy, who crated ANN COULTER? I'd never heard the woman before this morning, when I caught a moment on the Today show, and what a load of nonesense she is. Seriously. She's an amalgam of all the buttons a media whore can push to grab air time. Her act is coarse, shallow, and spewed mainly to rile earnest interviewers like MATT LAUER, who are accustomed to pablum from their guests. She gets credit for cleverly manipulating the media beast, but geez, what a waste of air time and our time. But back to gay marriage. Does it make a difference to the fate of our world? I don't think it makes a difference to a lot of gays, except in the realm of self-respect. I ask gay friends if they would marry, and most say "no." Still, they would like to have the same rights as every other tax paying, hard working, God fearing American adult.

I've been polling republican friends lately and almost to a one they are over
GEORGE BUSH. They assume the GOP will lose the House in the mid-terms, and just barely hold onto the Senate. Ironically they believe the only good happening to their party these days is HILLARY CLINTON. Why? They say, "because she will drive voters to our side and quite possibly JOHN MCCAIN."

Wouldn't this be nice: a serious, credible candidate for president who vows to start the US troop withdrawal from Iraq the moment he is sworn into office. Also, a commitment to run the country rather than use the country to carry out personal family vendettas. Does this person exist?

Democrat friends believe Sen. Clinton has the nomination if she wants it but that she really doesn't want it, that she likes being a Senator, it appeals to the wonk in her personality, and she would rather stay in the Senate for many years to come.

All in one sequence this morning, a news program had a story about I.E.D's, as in "improvised explosive devices," as employed in Iraq, and then a story about "intermittent explosive disorder," also known as IED, that excuses road rage as a disease, followed by an ad for IED, as in "intermittent erectile dysfunction."

In a word: lunacy. I think it has to do with the date, 6/6/06, and the Devil.



MONDAY, JUNE 5...
We're delighted with a write up at mediabistro.com that focuses on the Q&A lunches. You can read it at the highlighted link above.

I've made an executive decision to re-do Nathans front room, otherwise known as "the bar." It's had a sailing decor for 20 years and while attractive and of high quality it is time for a change. It's my secret what the new theme will be, but it's a good one; timely and fresh. (As timely and fresh as the re-do of the dining room with
DAVID HUME KENNERLY's political photos.) However, first I need to do some things. I need to sell the nautical art. Most of the prints are from limited editions. The charts are antique. The half hulls of the America's cup boats were commissioned by Howard from a fellow in Seattle who specializes in the making of half hulls. In other words, it's all good stuff. I could take it to auction and do well, but not having cash flow, I'd benefit more from a bulk sale to an individual. This way the sale of the old theme could pay for the new theme. If you know of anyone who is a collector, or a yacht club looking for new acquisitions, have them get in touch with me: carol@nathansgeorgetown.com.

Also, I need to find a painter who can give the bar a couple of new coats between when the yachts come down and the new stuff goes up. This means a crew of 2-3 painters who can come in and work after closing and part of the next day. I can't close for very long, but I can close for a morning and afternoon. I would like to do the painting in August. Most likely late August. We're deader than Kelso's nuts that time of year, anyway. I'd also like to find someone to refinish the teak floor, but that's a big project and we may not be able to close for the time it would take to do it properly.

School is almost out and in our household this is a finish line we can't wait to reach. Oh, to be able to sleep past 5:30 in the morning. I can't wait. The dog will wake me at 7 regardless, but 7 sounds a whole lot better than 5:30 a.m.

REGINA LEE a
t The Georgetown Current phoned again today with a few more questions pertaining to the ANC race. Once again I was barely coherent, but I did my best. On one subject I was clear, and that was the Bowie-Sevier mansion owned and renovated by HERB and PATRICE MILLER. To me that's a perfect example of good preservaton. They took an old gem that needed love and attention and lots of $$$$ - gave it all of that - and when they were finished they opened the doors wide to the community. If a local group needed to raise money, Patrice let them use her house. If they needed an encore, she graciously obliged.

I can't wait to see Regina's piece. I may have to hide for a few days, but we'll all survive.

Sad to have the Sopranos wrap up their season last night, and while the show had good moments it felt mostly like setting the stage for the next and, we're told, final season. All through the show I thought Chrissie was gonna get popped, but no. We'll have to wait for next seaon. And for now I'll have to content myself with Entourage, which is not difficult at all. I love that show. Adore it. Reminds me of my life when I was writing the CBS Evening News for W. Cronkite. It was the 70's, me and my posse were all young, unemcumbered, overpaid and on top of the world. Everyone should have a taste of that at least once before settling down.


SUNDAY, JUNE 3...
If you still have the Sunday NYTimes and haven't read the magazine section, grab it and read the piece by MARK BITTMAN about celebrity chefs and their multiple restaurants. That is if you like the occasional splurge in a great restaurant, which I do when time and $$$ allow. The point of this piece is that when we dine at a particular chef's restaurant, and pay sometimes upwards of $300 for dinner for two, we would like the chef to be in the kitchen. It's sort of like wanting to know a pilot is flying the plane rather than a robot. Not that the "acting" chefs in the clones aren't good chefs. In fact, many of them are great chefs. But they are great chefs doing a culinary version of paint by the numbers, or another man's recipes. I would rather they were opening their own one-off places, whipping up their own creations, so there would be more restaurants with the chef/owner in the kitchen. I'm not a fan of chains to start with, and I've never believed it is possible for a chef to replicate his or her particular genius when he's not the one doing the cooking.

But that's me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But read the piece: Dining By Satellite.

This is what else is on my mind today: vichyssoise. One of the world's great soups and, like so many great things, brilliant in its simplicity. The farmer's market this morning had gorgeous potatoes, leeks, onions. We in DC are so fortunate to have such a good outdoor market available to us on Sunday mornings. And at this time of year the produce begins to get better and better. Also, I'm addicted to the sesame cookies sold by one of the bakery stands.

But tonight is Italian night in our house, as we prepare to say goodbye to Tony again for too long a time. My plan is to make goat's cheese raviolis and a classic marinara sauce. For the salad it will be pecorino on argula with sliced pear. We'll have grissini and prosciutto and Sicilian olives, also. I got beautiful fresh strawberries at the farmer's market and will either douse them with a little balsamic vinegar or make a strawberry zabaglione. We think this is a meal Tony would like.

And for Sopranos fans who want to mingle with other Sopranos fans in Georgetown, please note that on Sunday nights the HD TV at Nathans is dedicated to the show at 9 pm. Many fans have taken to gathering in the bar, eating fresh house made pasta, and watching the show. It's a wonderful thing and Dylan gets credit for making it happen. So, be there tonight.

I've been stopped twice today by would be constituents who want to know if they can vote in the ANC race by absentee ballot. I don't know but I intend to find out first thing in the morning. I will put the info up here. But it seems that it should be possible. Why would this election be different than any other, apart from the fact it is a special election? The voting factors should remain the same as in a normal election. (What could be normal about this if I'm running?)

We had a marvelous getaway yesterday to the Hunt Valley region north of Baltimore - Maryland's horse country. Lovely. Incredibly lovely. We were in Monckton and various areas nearby. Looping, twisting two lane roads, horse farms, hills and valleys, gorgeous views, and a roadside barbecue stand where the fellas offered sliced turkey, ham or beef fresh off the grill. What a treat. I would like to return to hike in Gunpowder Falls State Park.

Last night Spencer and I had dinner with a friend at Nathans. The room was brimming with families celebrating one graduation or another. There were family members of all ages, lots of presents, lots of posing for photos, and many smiles on the faces of proud parents. This is when owning a restaurant is an up rather than a down.

FRIDAY, JUNE 2...
Nerve wracking is the only way to describe what it's like to be interviewed about one's own self. Our local paper of record, The Georgetown Current, interviewed me today about the ANC race and my positions. This is tough and I commend politicians who can deftly sail through these sorts of things. My problem is this: I don't have all the answers. I'm not comfortable pretending I do. When I'm asked what makes me preferable to the other candidates, I don't know what to say that doesn't sound like jive. What I did say was, "I'm not going negative. This is the ANC." Then I was asked what would make me better at preservation issues than the other candidates. I stalled on this because it depends on so much. It's one thing to weigh a small back porch addition and another to weigh a fundamental change in the fabric of a 'hood. Do I think a developer should be able to take some nice houses on Avon Place and re-do them as a subdivision? No. But you see, that's me reacting to the rumor racing around Georgetown. I haven't heard the legal arguments made to the ANC and other boards. Should he be able to re-do another house as an apartment building with underground parking? That doesn't appeal to me, either. Honestly, I think people who want to do those sorts of things in Georgetown should instead move to McLean or Potomac.

Anway, what I did say was that Howard and I had been collectors, and that as homeowners we took a particular interest in keeping our homes true to their environment, and that I'd made films for the NGA and worked with them. Does this make me a preservationist? Not on the technicalities, but I'm comfortable with the language and know what the supplicants are talking about. I said, "I have good taste. I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of." It's subjective, I know, but it's better than no taste. That could come back to haunt me. Anyone who see's me walking the streets in my "trying to be invisible" wardrobe would question my taste. Maybe I should have said I have a good eye, but that makes me sound like a decorator.

The interviewer, Regina, said most people consider preservation the key issue in the race. I disagreed. I said it's important, but equally important are issues like safety and security, quality of life. I applauded my neighbors the Penns for forming a community group to focus on crime issues. We need more house to house involvement in crime prevention. As for quality of life, I brought up parking and temporary passes. The latter should be easier for residents to obtain. Zone 2 sticker holders should be able to own a temp pass. An ANC could hammer out the appropriate details of that sort of thing. Also, as I said yesterday, we should first get a warning rather than a $50 ticket when our zone or inspection sticker expires, with 48 hours to get it done. Life is hectic. Maybe we innocently missed the deadline. (I'm raising my hand.) The city notifies us about the zone sticker, but not about inspection. Why one and not the other? The condition of the streets is a quality of life issue. Trash collection, too. We'll never have street cleaners again, but wouldn't it be nice if businesses were required to hose down the sidewalks each morning? It would make a difference.

I said I'm "for" things more than being a person who has an axe to grind. I want to bring positive energy to the process of community government.

Regina brought up the issue of my owning a business - particularly a restaurant - and would that make me come down hard on other restaurants. Hello? Long before I inherited Nathans I ate in restaurants. In fact, loved eating in restaurants. Still do. My opinions of restaurants have nothing to do with owning Nathans. What I said was, "I am first a resident and then a business owner. I am running as a resident, not a business owner. I was a resident before owning Nathans and I will be a resident after owning Nathans. Also, I am a grown up, mature, and hope to be able to weigh issues involving restaurants and other businesses with fairness, research, good judgment." Or words to that effect. Bottom line: I don't want to be judged by my husband's business. It was his profession, not mine. I am the caretaker, and it is the only means I have to support myself and my son. Judge me on that, if I have to be judged re Nathans. But, BS aside, my assessment of restaurants is simple. It's the same as my assessment of any other businesses: are they good for Georgetown? We need more good, family friendly bistros like Chaumiere and Le Pic and Leopolds. And more good deli's that make honest, wholesome food. And I wish we had more home delivery of good food. And I miss Neam's to this day. And why did West End get Trader Joe's? Why isn't Trader Joe's in the basement of Georgetown Park mall, drawing more residents into that building? I would be FOR a good grocery at Georgetown Park, like the awesome Gourmet Garage in New York.

I didn't stop with The Georgetown Current, though I probably should have. This afternoon I got a phone call from the Washington Times asking for my reaction to a new FDA statement that restaurants should reduce portions in order to help fight obesity in Americans. What did I think, she asked? Well, obesity is bad, just like smoking. Do restaurants cause obesity? Maybe. There's evidence the fast food chains that specialize in "super size" portions can play a role in obesity. At Nathans we don't super size. Our portions are reasonable. Even then, people don't clean their plates. I hate waste. I'm always on someone about keeping portions down to what people actually eat. But obesity? I think it's caused by what people between between their visits to normal restaurants. She asked if I thought we should put nutrition information on menus. As a mom I think it's a good idea. Do customers want it? No way. They want it at the supermarket but they don't want it up in their faces when they go out and spend $100 for dinner. Two years ago I had staff put the alcohol content of wines on the wine list - because I'm alarmed at the rate at which it is rising from 12.5 to 13.5 to 14 and 15.5 and higher. I thought this was a great service to customers - to let them know how much alcohol they were ingesting. But NO. THEY DIDN'T LIKE IT. They didn't want to know. I think they would feel the same way about nutritional information.

Anyway ... I've decided it's time to shut my mouth for 24 or 48 or 72 hours. Enough of me. I'm sick of me, too.


THURSDAY, JUNE 1...A big thrill for this lacrosse family tonight because we were among those invited to the Tewaaraton Trophy awards dinner here in Washington. The Tewaaraton is for college lacrosse what the Heismann is for college football. There was a reception at the University Club followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at the National Geographic Society headquarters. Most of the nation's top lacrosse players were in the room, including college and major league, plus coaches, team owners, parents, supporters, investors and fans of the game. For a sport that feels somewhat on the ropes in the wake of the Duke scandal this was a welcomed opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the up side. As a lax mom it was fun to watch my son get to meet some of his favorite players and other stars of the sport. It was a true perk and we're grateful to PAT MCARDLE of Georgetown University, who is on the Tewaaraton Foundation board. I particularly enjoyed talking with MATT WARD, who played such a terrific game Monday in the NCAA finals, when his team, the University of Virginia, won the title. No surprise that he won the Tewaaraton this evening out of a field of five finalists. I asked what his temmates did Mondy after the victory and he said, "we had a tailgate party." Then they crashed. Many of the players had to hustle up to Connecticut for the major league draft, which was yesterday. Matt will play for the Baltimore Bayhawks.

We met Bayhawks owner
JEFFREY HARVEY this evening, also. Since Washington does not have a team, the Bayhawks are our team...though I'm partial, also, to the New Jersey Pride, where JESSE HUBBARD is one of the stars.

From the awards we returned to Georgetown. I had an appointment at Christ Episcopal Church, where I got to do an encore interview with
JAMES CANNON about his book, "The Apostle Paul." This was fun for me and a privilege.

EARLIER...This is not news. I've been on hold with US Airways for 30 minutes, trying to find a way to use some of my bazillion F/F miles. Of course, nothing is available to anywhere. At least, anywhere I or you or anyone would want to go. Oh, maybe the West Indies in late August, the height of hurricane season when the tradewinds stop and the monster mosquitoes take charge. "What about the Star Alliance members?" I ask, showing my innocence. "Oh, nothing available with them, either," the agent assures me. Sigh. I think it's just another sign that this is the summer to not do much of anything. Called back and got another agent, another wait (this time only 15 minutes) and he was able to offer one option to Paris that exceeded even my bazillion miles. But he perked up, "You know, you should call back after June 9. That's when everything changes after we merge with America West. There will be all kinds of flights. That's really when you should call." I said, "Ha, maybe someone should have told me that 45 minutes ago." He said, "You're right, cause there's not really a lot we can do at this point." Double sigh.

MYRA MOFFETT, my campaign manager, and I walked our dogs this morning as usual. We came to a corner house near Rose Park with pretty gardens and tree boxes. There were also many signs warning away pet owners and bicyclists. Like, "don't let your pet go here." And, "don't park your bike here or it will be removed." And so forth. Someone else left a note that said, "Hey, this is public property." And, "screw you." While we were standing there admiring the flowers - DOGS WELL AWAY FROM TREE BOX - a window flew open and a woman angrily shouted out, "get your dogs away from my tree boxes." We assured her they were not in her tree boxes. "Yes, they are. Get away." Dutifully we hustled on. Myra said, "Can you imagine. All day she must have to keep watch at her window." I said, "you know, if I won the ANC and that person came before the commission I would probably say, 'You're obviously miserable here. Why not move to another neighborhood.'" But, as a politician, would I be able to be that honest?

I do believe there should be more dog bags and trash cans on the village streets. Also, I believe in pets' rights. While the tree boxes are important and deserve respect, especially the ones that are carefully tended, it shouldn't be assumed that all pets are messing in them and that all pet owners are allowing the trespess. And is it even a trespass? I wonder. It's a courtesy, more than anything. The pets make our lives richer and the little darlings have to be permitted to go SOMEWHERE.



Hit these links for PAST DIARIES:

   

September05

February (first diary)05

June05

October05
March05

July05

Nov/Dec05
April-May05 August05 Jan/Feb/Mar06
April/May06 June/July06 Aug/Sept06
Oct/Nov/Dec06